A recent report published by Bloomberg revealed that since the beginning of this year, Qatar has hired several prominent US firms, with ties to Democrats, for lobbying and consulting work in Washington DC to “cultivate a closer relationship” with US President Joe Biden’s administration and Congress.
The lobbying costs Qatar a combined rate of $186,000 per month, Bloomberg said, citing Foreign Agent Registration Act documents, adding that the US firms have close ties to Democrats, including House and Senate foreign affairs committees.
The report said that Qatar has been bolstering its lobbying network since the onset of the 2017 Gulf boycott, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt severed diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism – a charge Doha denies.
Bloomberg reported that Qatar had spent $4 million on lobbyists in 2016, and $12.9 million in 2017.
Qatar’s ambassador to the US, Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, said the country “hired lobbyists to correct factual errors and address the damage the disinformation campaign did to our reputation,” in an interview with Bloomberg, adding that they “defended” themselves via the lobbying.
“US lobbyists can also seek to help ensure support for a variety of Qatar’s other interests, including its hosting of the 2022 World Cup and continued defense purchases from the US,” the report said.
Steven Cook, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and an expert on US-Middle East policy, told Bloomberg that the “Qataris see the relationship with the United States as one of self-preservation.”
“Though they would never actually say that,” he added.
During the GCC summit in January in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla, all Gulf countries signed the AlUla declaration which Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said formally ended the dispute with Qatar.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said during the summit that there was an urgent need for Gulf countries to unite their efforts, especially in the face of the Iranian threat in the region.